Is Life Expectancy in Our Genes? New Research Suggests It is (Video)

New research at the University of Glasgow has suggested that life expectancy is genetically related – and can be determined early on.

The research on Zebra Finches was published in the January issue in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.

It showed that the lifespan of the finches can be determined from early in life using the length of specialized pieces of DNA called telomeres, which occur at the ends of the chromosomes that contain our genetic code.

Telomeres deter the degradation of genes near the ends of chromosomes by allowing chromosome ends to shorten, which necessarily occurs during chromosome replication. Over time, due to each cell division, the telomere ends do become shorter.

Their deterioration has been shown to cause cells to malfunction – hence the effect on life expectancy.

Measuring the telomores, they determined that the best prediction of lifespan was made at 25 days old. It is the first study to do this throughout the lifespan of an animal.

Dr Britt Heidinger from the University of Glasgow said:

“While there was a lot of variation amongst individuals in telomere length, those birds that lived longest had the longest telomeres at every measurement point.”

This impact of telomeres applies to all life but, as the BBC presenter in the below video jokes, Zebra Finches don’t eat pies and crisps – the researchers next step will be to look at environmental factors alongside early life experience and inheritance.

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Picture by acme

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SeattleAnn S.
Ann S.3 years ago

Very interesting, thanks for sharing.

Mark S.
Mark S.3 years ago

Gary A, even if a had that "aging disease". I suffer chronic pains at times and it can be unbearable. The docs and hospitals cannot seem to find a cause. Usually the severe intestinal cramps go away in about 12-24 hours. The rest of the time my feet hurt, especially when I walk.
I suspect arthritis, and meds don't help that much. If I could get rid of the pain and fatigue and depression,, and had a good life, I wouldn't mind living to be 100 or more.

Arild Warud
Arild Warud3 years ago

Don't think so.

New G.
New G.3 years ago

Thank you.

Jeffrey W.
Jeffrey W.3 years ago

The inequity is grossly unfair. A government program is needed immediately to address this disparity.

Brian M.
Past Member 3 years ago

A great deal of human health and life expectancy is encoded in the genes, but there is also a lot we can do to mitigate shortcomings and sometimes even overcome them.

Joy Dantine
Joy Dantine3 years ago

Blood cells overrule genes anyday of the week. Combat from within is what internal medicine and like treatments are all about - including homeopathic, spiritual, et al.

Ana R3 years ago


Bert H.
Bert H.3 years ago

@ Shar F
- "So if we all would start doing things right, our descendents would have good genes!"
No, they won't: our descendants will have our genes anyway, good or bad....

Gloria Morotti
Gloria Morotti3 years ago

OF COURSE genes have to do with life expectancy. Along with diet, life style, etc., etc. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out. These people are being PAID to research this crap, when it is a given.